Sixers, Clippers headline NBA free agency Day 1 winners and losers

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The latest NBA free agency period began Sunday with teams and players now being able to discuss deals during the moratorium period.

However, fans hoping for a flurry of moves right when the period opened at 6 p.m. ET were left rather disappointed.

Some popular names reportedly shifted teams, but it wasn’t the opening day experience of years prior.

Let’s analyze the first day of free agency with five winners and losers:

WINNER: Victor Wembanyama

All the discourse about the San Antonio Spurs last season focused on a lack of a needle-moving point guard. That hole seems to be addressed for now, with Chris Paul set to join the team following his release from the Golden State Warriors at the start of free agency.

A few hours after the waive, Paul reportedly agreed to a one-year, $11 million contract with San Antonio, where he’s presumably going to start alongside Victor Wembanyama. Wembanyama already showed plenty of potential in his debut season, but playing next to a playmaker of Paul’s caliber can help him reach new levels.

Paul may no longer be in contention to win his first ever ring, but he’ll still have a significant role to play in Texas.

LOSER: Los Angeles Clippers’ starpower

The Clippers‘ marriage with Paul George is all but over. The star wing is set to explore interest from other teams, with the Philadelphia 76ers reportedly high in the mix.

Los Angeles’ Sunday saw it reportedly extend James Harden to a two-year, $70 million deal while also agreeing to terms with Kevin Porter Jr. on a two-year deal (with a player option) and Derrick Jones Jr. to a three-year deal worth $30 million.

It all but ends the George-Kawhi Leonard tandem in Hollywood, which resulted in constant disappointments and no NBA Finals appearances. Unless the Clippers somehow manage to land another star, they won’t be as strong next season.

WINNER: Orlando Magic’s defense

A rather surprising first-day splash saw the Magic agree terms with wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The deal reportedly is worth $66 million over three years, which does seem like a overpay. But quality 3-and-D wings are extremely scarce in the NBA, and Caldwell-Pope brings experience to the table as a two-time champion.

His fit is pretty clear with Orlando: He’ll be the 2 guard with Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter Jr. also in the lineup. Orlando deployed the third-best defense in the league last season, so head coach Jamahl Mosley has another quality player at his disposal to rise a few levels.

The reported move is also a huge blow for the Denver Nuggets, who most likely will have to replace Caldwell-Pope’s impact internally. If so, they’ll also trend a few steps down in overall depth, which hurt them at times this past season.

LOSER: Silence

A lack of moves arguably was the biggest headliner of the day. After the news of Paul’s waiving and Harden’s new deal with the Clippers, the next move was the Boston Celtics retaining backup big man Luke Kornet.

Other reported moves involved the Dallas Mavericks agreeing to a three-year, $27 million deal with wing Naji Marshall, Andre Drummond planning a return to Philly and Jonas Valanciunas intending to join the Washington Wizards on a three-year, $30 million deal.

Names with uncertain futures still on the market include George, Klay Thompson, Tobias Harris, DeMar DeRozan, Isaiah Hartenstein, Gary Trent Jr. and Buddy Hield, among others.

WINNER: Philadelphia 76ers’ activity

One of the primary weaknesses for the Sixers last season included a lack of quality depth. They addressed some of that early on the first day, with the Drummond move and agreeing to a one-year deal with veteran shooting guard Eric Gordon.

Drummond’s role as primarily a rebounding big has revitalized his worth, while Gordon averaged 11 points per game as a Phoenix Sun last season on a 44/38/80 shooting split.

They also reportedly agreed to re-sign Kelly Oubre Jr. to a two-year, $16.3 million deal after a solid first season with the franchise.

But there’s still more to do, as Hield, Harris, Nicolas Batum, Kyle Lowry, Robert Covington, De’Anthony Melton and Cam Payne all hit the open market.

And landing George to pair with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey would certainly be significant, so they’re on the right track.

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